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longer a subject of controversy. The principles, professed by the first leaders of that revolution, were so congenial to those of the American people; their pretences of aiming merely at the reformation of abuses were so plausible; the spectacle of a great people struggling to recover their "long lost liberties" was so imposing and august; while that of a combination of tyrants to conquer and subjugate, was so revolting; the services, received from one of the belligerent powers, and the injuries inflicted by the other, were so recent in our minds, that the sensibility of the nation was excited to the most exquisite pitch. To this disposition, so favorable to the wishes of France, every appeal was made, which intrigue, corruption, flattery and threats could dictate. At this dangerous and dazzling crisis, there were but few men entirely exempt from the general delirium. Among that few was Hamilton. His penetrating eye discerned, and his prophetic voice foretold, the tendency and consequence of the first revolutionary movements. He was assured, that every people which should espouse the cause of France would pass under her yoke, and that the people of France, like every nation which surrenders its reason to the mercy of demagogues, would be driven by the storms of anarchy upon the shores of despotism. All this he knew was conformable to the invariable law of nature and experience of mankind. From the reach of this desolation he was anxious to save his country, and in the pursuit of his purpose, he breasted the assaults of calumny and prejudice. "The torrent roared, and he did buffit it." Appreciating the advantages of a neutral position, he co-operated with Washington, Adams, and the other patriots of that day, in the means best adapted to maintain it. The rights and duties of neutrality, proclaimed by the President, were explained and enforced by Hamilton in the character of Pacificus. The attempts to corrupt and intimidate were resisted. The British treaty was justified and defended as an honorable compact with our natural friends, and
pregnant with advantages, which have since been realized and acknowledged by its opponents.
By this pacific and vigorous policy, in the whole course of which the genius and activity of Hamilton were conspicuous, time and information were afforded to the American nation, and correct views were acquired of our situation and interests. We beheld the republics of Europe march in procession to the funeral of their own liberties, by the lurid light of the revolutionary torch. The tumult of the passions subsided, the wisdom of the administration was perceived, and America now remains a solitary monument in the desolated plains of liberty.
Having remained at the head of the treasury several years, and filled its coffers; having developed the sources of an ample revenue, and tested the advantages of his own system by his own experience; and having expended his private fortune; he found it necessary to retire from public employment, and to devote his attention to the claims of a large and dear family. What brighter instance of disinterested honor has ever been exhibited to an admiring world! That a man, upon whom devolved the task of originating a system of revenue for a nation; of devising the checks in his own department; of providing for the collection of sums, the amount of which was conjectural; that a man, who anticipated the effects of a funding system, yet a secret in his own bosom, and who was thus enabled to have secured a princely fortune, consistently with principles esteemed fair by the world; that such a man, by no means addicted to an expensive or extravagant style of living, should have retired from office destitute of means adequate to the wants of mediocrity, and have resorted to professional labor for the means of decent support, are facts which must instruct and astonish those, who, in countries habituated to corruption and venality, are more attentive to the gains than to the duties of official station. Yet Hamilton was that man. It was a fact, al
ways known to his friends, and it is now evident from his testament, made under a deep presentiment of his approaching fate. Blush, then, ministers and warriors of imperial France, who have deluded your nation by pretensions to a disinterested regard for its liberties and rights! Disgorge the riches extorted from your fellow-citizens, and the spoils amassed from confiscation and blood! Restore to impoverished nations the price paid by them for the privilege of slavery, and now appropriated to the refinements of luxury and corruption! Approach the tomb of Hamilton, and compare the insignificance of your gorgeous palaces with the awful majesty of this tenement of clay!
We again accompany our friend in the walks of private life, and in the assiduous pursuit of his profession, until the aggressions of France compelled the nation. to assume the attitude of defence. He was now invited by the great and enlightened statesman, who had succeeded to the presidency, and at the express request of the commander-in-chief, to accept of the second rank in the army. Though no man had manifested a greater desire to avoid war, yet it is freely confessed, that when war appeared to be inevitable, his heart exulted in the tented field," and he loved the life and occupation of a soldier. His early habits were formed amid the fascinations of the camp. And though the pacific policy of Adams once more rescued us from war, and shortened the existence of the army establishment, yet its duration was sufficient to secure to him the love and confidence of officers and men, to enable him to display the talents and qualities of a great general, and to justify the most favorable prognostics of his prowess in the field.
Once more this excellent man unloosed the helmet from his brow, and returned to the duties of the forum. From this time he persisted in a firm resolution to decline all civil honors and promotion, and to live a private citizen, unless again summoned to the defence of his country. He became more than ever assiduous
in his practice at the bar, and intent upon his plans of domestic happiness, until a nice and mistaken estimate of the claims of honor, impelled him to the fatal act which terminated his life.
While it is far from my intention to draw a veil over this last great error, or in the least measure to justify a practice, which threatens in its progress to destroy the liberty of speech and of opinion; it is but justice to the deceased, to state the circumstances which should palliate the resentment that may be excited in some good minds towards his memory. From the last sad memorial which we possess from his hand, and in which, if our tears permit, we may trace the sad presage of the impending catastrophe, it appears that his religious principles were at variance with the practice of duelling, and that he could not reconcile his benevolent heart to shed the blood of an adversary in private combat, even in his own defence. It was, then, from public motives that he committed this great mistake. It was for the benefit of his country, that he erroneously conceived himself obliged to make the painful sacrifice of his principles, and to expose his life. The sober judgment of the man, was confounded and misdirected by the jealous honor of the soldier; and he evidently adverted to the possibility of events that might render indispensable, the esteem and confidence of soldiers as well as of citizens.
But while religion mourns for this aberration of the judgment of a great man, she derives some consolation from his testimony in her favor. If she rejects the apology, she admits the repentance; and if the good example be not an atonement, it may be an antidote for the bad. Let us, then, in an age of infidelity, join, in imagination, the desolate group of wife and children and friends, who surround the dying bed of the inquisitive, the luminous, the scientific Hamilton, and witness his attestation to the truth and comforts of our holy religion. Let us behold the lofty warrior bow his head before the cross of the meek and lowly Jesus;
and he who had so lately graced the sumptuous tables and society of the luxurious and rich, now, regardless of these meaner pleasures, and aspiring to be admitted to a sublime enjoyment with which no worldly joys can compare; to a devout and humble participation of the bread of life. The religious fervor of his last moments was not an impulse of decaying nature yielding to its fears, but the result of a firm conviction of the truths of the gospel. I am well informed, that in early life, the evidences of the Christian religion had attracted his serious examination, and obtained his deliberate assent to their truth, and that he daily, upon his knees, devoted a portion of time to a compliance with one of its most important injunctions: and that, however these edifying propensities might have yielded occasionally to the business and temptations of life, they always resumed their influence, and would probably have prompted him to a public profession of his faith in his Redeemer.
Such was the untimely fate of Alexander Hamilton, whose character warrants the apprehension, that "take him for all in all, we ne'er shall look upon his like again."
Nature, even in the partial distribution of her favors, generally limits the attainments of great men within distinct and particular spheres of eminence. But he was the darling of nature, and privileged beyond the rest of her favorites. His mind caught, at a glance, that perfect comprehension of a subject, for which others are indebted to patient labor and investigation. In whatever department he was called to act, he discovered an intuitive knowledge of its duties, which gave him an immediate ascendency over those who had made them the study of their lives; so that, after running through the circle of office, as a soldier, statesman and financier, no question remained for which he had been qualified, but only in which he had evinced the most superlative merit. He did not dissemble his attachment to a military life, nor his con